Navy no longer requires photos for officer promotion boards

U.S. NAVAL BASE GUAM (Sept. 1, 2015) – Lt. Cmdr. John Belcher, operations officer, was frocked after receiving his promotion from Capt. Mark A. Prokopuis, commanding officer, on board USS Emory S. Land (AS 39). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tiffany L. Downey/Released)

US Navy officer selection boards will no longer require full-length dress uniform photos, with some fearing that those who appeared overweight would be unfairly scrutinized and passed for promotion.

The US Navy made their announcement on Tuesday in NAVADMIN 186/16, according to the Navy Times.

“During selection boards, hundreds of records are reviewed in a short period of time by board members,” said Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Admiral Robert Burke. “By enacting this change, it is our belief that we will help selection board members more closely focus their attention on the entirety of Sailors’ documented performance records.”

While some criticize the removal of the photos, proponents of the removal claim that discrepancies in an officer’s ability to maintain weight or wear the uniform properly would be noted by their commanders, thus making the need for a photo redundant.

“In reviewing the Navy’s board process, it was determined that the officer full-length photographs present redundant information to board members and do not provide significant value to the selection board process,” said Navy Personnel Command spokeswoman LTCDR Jodie Cornell.  “While it will still remain a requirement to submit an officer photograph, we believe that by removing the officers’ photographs from selection boards, it will allow board members to concentrate more fully on the individual’s overall performance record.”

The requirement for the 4×6 photos -which featured the officer in their khaki uniform- were re-introduced in 2007 after approximately 10 years of absence. However, personnel officials found that compliance was slow, issuing reminders of mandatory photos as late as 2013.

“Annually, the Navy receives approximately 10,000 officer full-length photographs. Last year the Navy received 1,800 photographs included in letters to the board,” Cornell said.  “We believe that eliminating the photograph requirement will lessen an administrative burden that does not provide significant value.”

Naval personnel will still have their photos kept on file, as some jobs such as embassy duty and Pentagon staffing require a person to meet appearance-based criteria.

More information on the full-length photograph requirement for officers can be found in NAVADMIN 103/07 and MILPERSMAN 1070-180.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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